It’s been a while…but I’m back on making garb.

After seeing the details for Great Southern Gathering 2018, I knew I had to be there. Arts & sciences all the things? Equestrian? SIGN ME UP!!!

Problem is, even at ICW, I found my Viking garb a little on the warm side. Within a couple of weeks of returning from ICW, I was making my wardrobe lighter and lighter; there have been a few cold snaps, but it’s slowly warming up. By October? My Viking garb would be awful to wear.

And, by October, I’ll have to actually start thinking about sun protection again. It’s not news that I’m pale as heck and burn easily - but even if you don’t burn, the sun can still do damage. Most professional advice acknowledges that opaque clothing is more effective than sunscreen, if you can’t avoid being in the sun - and considering that my sunscreen choices are ‘leaving white marks all over everything’ or ‘oh god it itches and burns so bad’, I’m in agreement.

But what to wear for that? I got my answer in The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant - I got my copy from Colonial Lake Books.

Figure 4.22 (page 62) shows a women’s fine cote, or tunic, from roughly the mid-13th to early 14th century. It’s a long dress, with long sleeves and a high neckline; the sleeves are tight on the forearm, then left loose the rest of the way.

It’s loose-fitting, but not bulky, and it covers almost everything. But, you might be thinking, wouldn’t that be awfully hot in summer? Maybe in wool, but using lighter cotton or linen, I think I’ll be fine. I’m hoping to make one in linen, and the other in cotton broadcloth (a fairly heavy cotton) - the latter just in case October isn’t quite as warm as I think it’ll be.

The rest of 13thC/14thC fashion works well for summer too, in the right fabrics. The elaborate headwear wasn’t quite in yet; instead, more common was a fairly basic veil and/or wimple. They’re pretty simple - the wimple is just a big rectangle, with the short ends fastened on top of the head and the rest arranged to cover your neck. The veil or kerchief is another rectangle draped and pinned over it, to cover the rest of your head. (Under the whole thing goes a filet, or headband, to pin everything else to - I was going to use a piece of my brocaded silk sari border, but it could be too slippery on my hair.)

These were usually very fine bleached linen - I couldn’t find any that I liked enough that wasn’t sheer, so I’m likely going for a cotton lawn or voile instead. Lawn is slightly more opaque, which is better for sun protection.

And then, the fancy stuff…a cloak. The pattern for a cloak is as simple as it gets, even compared to a surcote - it’s a semicircle.

Yup. If you know what a radius and a diameter are, you can make a cloak. Your radius is how long you want it (neck to wherever it ends), and your diameter is double that to find out about how long the piece of fabric needs to be; the radius will also tell you how wide your fabric needs to be to get the curve (though there are tricks to making it work with a narrower fabric). I’m only doing half-circles, but there are arguments for 2/3 and 3/4 circles for some variations. Hoods are a bit more complicated - I want a rounded-back hood, slightly oversized and with good depth. I still haven’t figured out a fastener either; I can probably get a nice brass cloak pin, but for my second cloak a pin isn’t an option (I’ll explain in a bit).

The cloak is mainly because it could still come in quite cold at night, especially in Victoria. But, it’s easier to put on and take off a cloak than to suffer warm under-layers, or to deal with a surcote. A cloak can be multi-purpose too; it can be a blanket, a dressing gown or a privacy screen too. And they just look cool, ok? Ok.

For a liner, I initially thought flannelette would be good…and then a friend reminded me that it takes forever to dry if it gets wet. So I’m saving the flannelette for the hood liner only, and the rest in some more cotton broadcloth - hard-wearing, but it should dry reasonably fast if it does get wet. My initial cloak fabric was going to be Kersey horse blanket liner - 80% wool, 180cm wide, and shockingly cheap from saddelry supply stores. But then I found a slightly cheaper mid-heavy weight brown wool flannel online, so I’m hoping for that instead.

I had initially wanted to do a grey surcote or cloak, with a red contrast liner - but couldn’t find anything to fit. Black is out - our heavy fighters use black cloaks, and I’m not part of that (yet). And I just didn’t like any of the other colours. Maroon or brown would have to do, and friends suggested a cream or grey lining.

But then, someone mentioned issues of waterproof interlining…and I stumbled across an oilcloth on The Remnant Warehouse. A real one - 100% cotton, with a treatment. While they only claim water resistance, a blogger has used the fabric to make a rain cape (that covers her backpack as well as herself) and found it pretty well waterproof, and comfortable enough to wear that she didn’t line the hood. (The link was sent to me by their customer service, after asking about re-waterproofing seams, as providing some sewing tips.)

From her photos, it drapes and flows nicely enough to make a whole cloak. I had initially thought to do a Skjoldeham-style hood (which the College is running a class on making sometime soon anyway) or a hooded capelet, but after seeing that the oilcloth is 150cm wide, I figured I might as well do a whole cloak considering how much I had to buy for a capelet. (The Skjoldeham hood seemed like it might be difficult to make long enough that it would provide good coverage.) I’ll be lining this in dark blue flannelette (hood only) and broadcloth (the rest).

But, pinning the oilcloth isn’t an option. I’ve already been recommended to look into tent seam sealant, and to use ultra-fine (Microtex) machine needles to sew it. Every hole made in the oilcloth is a hole water can get through. My thought at the moment is to make a ‘fake’ pin closure (see if someone has a cloak pin missing the actual pin, or similar, and sew it down where the pin would sit normally) and to instead add ring-closure snaps in the liner (concealed by the outer fabric) or something like that.

So, while I waited on help to make a body block and picked up the linen to fix my serks, I did some digging…


For the smocks underneath the cote, I can reuse my serks, with only a minor sleeve alteration. For the rest?

These are the two cloak fabrics:

Top is the Kersey wool lining; the maroon appears to be the one on top of the pile, on the far right. Bottom is the brown wool flannel.

Obviously, the brown wool flannel is significantly cheaper, but it might not be there when I have the money to order it as it’s not a stock service fabric (ie, it’s not permanent stock at The Remnant Warehouse).

Following the suggestions for liners, I’ve picked out these two cream-coloured fabrics; it was easier to find matching cream fabrics than greys:

Top is broadcloth, bottom is flannelette.

I am considering though if broadcloth might still be too slow-drying to be good, or if I might need to go lighter again into something like a 100% cotton poplin. It does need to be opaque though, at least.

And then there’s that rain cloak…

Top: oilcloth. Middle is broadcloth, bottom is flannelette.

To be fair, from this blog post the oilcloth looks to be more of a brown than the nearly-black dark green shown on the website, but I think the navy blue liner will be very pretty. And practical - according to the same blog post, there was quite a lot of excess oil in the oilcloth, and I don’t think it’d be too good for my skin or hair somehow. The liner fabrics are also all narrower than the cloak, but the width should still let me get pieces of the right size - and it’s fine for the liner to have seams.

Finally, my cote fabrics. The peacock blue linen will stay cool if it becomes very hot; the broadcloth will be heavier and warmer if the weather turns:

Top is the peacock blue linen; bottom is the petrol blue broadcloth.

For my veil and wimple, I’m looking at either an unknown fine cotton from DK Fabrics (it could be voile, but it wasn’t labelled as such; the price doesn’t match with the website listing for the voile either) or a cotton lawn from Spotlight. Either one, in white, should be suitable.

I’m hoping to get a chance to see some of these fabrics in person over the weekend, and when the swatches from The Remnant Warehouse arrive. I’ve made some temporary swatch pages in one notebook, but I’m working on turning the A5-ish journal book I made at a workshop into a dedicated swatch book. (It may take a while to get and put all of the swatches in, and I’m still not sure if Spotlight does swatches or if they make you buy a minimum cut. We’ll see.)


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